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A lifetime ago in a different world, friendly smiling faces offered a contract paying enough to cancel my tuition debt, buy a house, a car, a new life. The task simple: Leave the 21st century by means of time travel and visit first century Rome under Emperor Caligula; learn history from the inside, observe and record my experiences. At the end of fifteen years, I would automatically return to this century, the same day as I left. A quirk of the science. The years spent in Rome as a secret historian would not affect this modern body, nor could it change history. At twenty-five, just out of college, a mountain of debt, and meager prospects of ever being more than poor, I accepted. I learned ancient Latin, got genetically regressed fifteen years, and prepared to be sent to Rome, 37 AD.
The Time Travel device linked to a black hole. It hummed, my vision went dark, my body, my heart, my brain, stopped. When I moved again, I stood in the middle of six naked boys in a dark cell. We huddled for warmth.
A rough looking Praetorian Guard with a scar across his face burst into the cell, pointed to me. "Prepare this slave for the palace. Take the rest to the brothels." Slaves grabbed me, hauled me to the Medicus, and chained me to a wall. Medicus showed me two pieces of metal with posts depicting the heads of deities protruding one side, and at the top, half rings mounted by horse's heads. He fastened the ring around my hairless manhood and tied the rods tight, stretching my hairless sack from my body. Before I could scream, a knife, heated to glowing red, severed my exposed sack and testicles. I stood in the Medicus' chamber screaming and crying. The Praetorian slapped my face hard.
"I'm doing you a favor, Paululum Caliga won't take a Spado for his pleasures," he said. Thus, I began my study of Rome from inside the Emperor's retinue, dutifully observing and reporting from within.
That same Praetorian with the scar kept me from accompanying Caligula through the cryptoporticus on the day of his assassination. He declared Claudius Princeps and spirited him to his camp with me as his new slave.
I spent nine years in Claudius' palace, assembling a history, hiding the scrolls within a wall known to survive the next two millennium. On the anniversary of my time transport, my vision went dark, my body, my heart, my brain, stopped. When I opened my eyes, two medics knelt above me, resuscitating me. I struggled to stand and moved stiff, awkward. Yet, I was back in the present age, naked, gasping, and twenty-five again.
However, the people involved were strangers, none of them familiar.
"What happened?" I asked. A year had passed in the modern world to match my fifteen in the ancient world, they explained.
"The conspirators who sent you destroyed their records. Subjects have been materializing without warning. We debrief the ones who survived as they return. We need to know, why were you sent back into history?" A puzzling explanation that left troubling questions.
"I became a Commentariis of Rome during the reigns of Caligula and Claudius. I stored scrolls in a safe crypt." I rubbed my hands over my shivering body. "Some clothing? A cloak?" One of them gave me a robe. As it warmed me, my hands reached under my manhood and felt nothing.
"I thought I would return and be restored exactly the same as I was sent? That's what they promised."
"That was one of many lies. What you left in the past, remains there."
And I knew that for the rest of my life I would be as the Praetorian and Medicus made me, a Spado.
636 words more or less
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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